It’s natural to want to know about your coach’s background. After all, it’s too easy to assume that I sprouted full-grown and was raised by vegan health food nuts and that I’ve never had to think about my own relationship with food.
I grew up thinking food preparation was more or less a mystery. I still know my favorite go-to order at any fast food restaurant you can name. Like so many of us, most of my favorite childhood memories revolve around food. I was an overweight kid and remember struggling with my body image at a young age. Comments about how much weight I had lost or gained somehow became the typical way I was greeted at annual family gatherings. By the time I left college, I still had zero knowledge or confidence about cooking, but I knew that I loved food, and I had a full-blown addiction to sugar.
As a young adult in the San Francisco Bay Area, a hub for artisan foodies and cooking schools, I was delighted by the world of food and home cooking. To have so many resources and food-themed communities was such a blessing, yet it also meant that my ingrained habits of overeating and obsessing over my next sugar fix were socially acceptable and easily ignored by me for years.
I quickly progressed from foodie to food science geek out of necessity because I discovered I hate making the same dish twice. My desire to actually like and eat the results of my kitchen experiments drove me to learn more. Bread baking was my gateway drug: from there, I dove into the world of cooking and baking head first. I’m self-taught with some dabbling in courses from the San Francisco Baking Institute and SF Cooking School.
I grew increasingly curious about how the food I was eating — or was thinking about, or was trying not to eat — influenced how I felt in my body and in the world. Around the same time, I also became more aware of chronic physical symptoms that I had simply accepted as permanent: frequent stomachaches and painful bowel movements, sinus congestion and seasonal allergy symptoms almost every day of the year since elementary school, and weight fluctuations (usually an increase) I never quite understood.
Before I was a health coach, my career was a blend of survey and interview research, nonprofit program evaluation, and software implementation project management. So, it came natural to me to get curious about my symptoms, ask good questions, carry out some methodical experiments with my own diet, and analyze.
Cleaning up my own eating habits was only part of the story: I also came to realize the enormous impact that stress had on me – my energy, my sleep, and especially my digestion. The only time in my life I ever had hemorrhoids and a back injury coincided with the hands-down, most stressful job of my life: coincidence? I don’t think so.
After thoughtfully changing my diet and getting a handle on my stress level, working with a health coach, and finding forms of exercise I genuinely enjoy like running, I am thrilled to say that I have a deeper understanding of my body and those physical symptoms I had had for years. My digestion is vastly improved, and when something is wrong, I’m usually right about what caused it (again, for me, often stress), and I have a wider variety of remedies to address it. My sinus congestion is no longer a daily occurrence because I now know what foods trigger it for me, and I have maintained a healthy weight for my body pretty effortlessly for over three years.
I’ve dramatically reduced the amount of sugar I eat and radically increased the amount of nutrient-dense, whole foods (vegetables, fruit, beans, grains, nuts and seeds are my favorites) on my plate. I’ve also done a lot to deepen my self-awareness when it comes to what truly nourishes me so that food is just food when I want it to be. Not the cause of obsessive thoughts and guilt trips. Not the thing that I use and abuse to un-feel my feelings or fill a void in my life. This is a lifelong journey, and I’m always taking steps to grow and develop myself.
I think food is meant to nourish, fuel, and delight us. I also think many things nourish us at a deeper level than food ever can, but somewhere along the way we get confused about that. I know I sure was. My aim is to help you create the ease and energy around food in your life that you want.
My food truly feeds me and supports my lifestyle: when I’m not coaching, I’m experimenting in the kitchen, taking food and nutrition science classes, running 5k’s and half marathons for fun, taking spin and yoga classes at my gym, reading about mindfulness stress reduction techniques, reading cookbooks like they are novels, and enjoying a loving relationship with my partner of over 7 years!